Surveys as Tools to Measure Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Surveys as Tools to Measure Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Ellen Boeren (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7409-7.ch021
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This chapter critically explores the tendency of research methods books to discuss survey research under the header of quantitative research approaches. It starts by providing a brief history on survey research, sets out core definitions, and situates survey research in the current methodological literature. The chapter then explores the nature of specific survey questions and the differences in format based on whether one is gathering qualitative versus quantitative data. Finally, the chapter explores the impact of survey methodologies and provides insight into the format of questions to be used during telephone, face-to-face, and self-completing surveys.
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This chapter explores the extent to which social sciences surveys can be used to measure quantitative as well as qualitative data. This chapter begins by focussing on the history and definitions of surveys and on the predominantly quantitative nature of the survey literature. References are made to differences between deductive and inductive reasoning and underpinning philosophical assumptions in order to situate survey research in dominant methodological discourses. Secondly, a discussion is introduced on how to write survey questions and on the quantitative versus qualitative nature of the specific questions being asked. Special attention is given to when it is appropriate to introduce questions measuring qualitative information. Thirdly, this chapter focuses on the different survey methods such as self-completion, telephone or face-to-face, and the implications these methods have on the format of the questions that can be asked. This chapter ends with a set of overarching conclusions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Survey Method: Method used to collect data, such as the telephone, the internet, pen and paper.

Ontology: Theory of existence.

Open Questions: Questions without answering options, requiring respondents to complete their own answer.

Fixed Design: A research design that works with fixed data gathering tools, not able to amend during data collection phase, often used in quantitative research.

Closed Questions: Questions which include the answering options respondents have to choose from.

Probability Sampling: At random sampling, all elements in the population have a chance to be selected.

Flexible Design: A research design strongly focusing on the researcher as data gather, able to intervene during data collection phase, often used in qualitative research.

Non-Probability Sampling: Non-random sampling, often determined by convenience or purpose.

Epistemology: The philosophy and theory of knowledge.

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